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'Balls of Steel' stop rolling

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09:19 CEST+02:00
SVT and Strix have agreed to cancel production of the television comedy series 'Balls of Steel' following widespread criticism of a practical joke involving Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt.

Production company Strix had been in the process of recording on behalf of national broadcaster SVT a Swedish version of the British Channel 4 show.

Just over a week has passed since a woman posing as a television reporter squirted water at the prime minister with a trick microphone outside the Rigoletto cinema. Fredrik Reinfeldt was attending the premiere of the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie with his family at the time.

The incident led to the Strix employee being called in for questioning by the Swedish Security Service, which struggled to see the funny side.

"SVT and Strix are in agreement that we should take a break from recording. Every joke, however innocuous, is considered provocative right now," SVT spokeswoman Helga Baagöe told Aftonbladet.

A number of further sketches have also been criticized in recent days.

A fake theft at Kista Galleria in Stockholm is a case in point. As the 'Balls of Steel' cameras rolled, the thief made off with a some items of clothing and was chased around the busy shopping centre by security guards. A number of elderly people were almost knocked over before the thief was finally caught by a civic-minded shopper.

"We haven't been able to record during the last few days as a result of the moral panic that has emerged. People have become terrified of the programme," Robert Aschberg, head of Strix, told Aftonbladet.

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